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The world seems a little obsessed with “5 Hour Energy.” I’m a little concerned about the long term effects of this drink. I don’t know what’s in it and do not mean to endorse it. But I like the concept. Being in the zone is critical in sports and helpful in just about anything you take on.

That zone is really only about focus. Directed energy in the present moment. This attention keeps you looking in one direction. What could you accomplish if you were willing to give energy in the present moment to one thing? “I choose this.” That’s all focus is. You are in the zone when you say, this is all I’m doing.

Multi-tasking is okay now and again. When necessary, it’s helpful to be able to do it. But when you really want to get something done, be a success, do your best at something, the more focus you have, the better your chances for a good outcome.

No wonder everyone wants this drink.

There’s a lot of scattered energy these days. Multiple e-mails and conflicting demands are coming at us all the time and encourage that helter-skelter focus. On the contrary, anything that keeps our attention on a goal we can wrap ourselves around with energy and passion is far more productive. And it doesn’t have to come in a bottle!

Can’t we generate focus on our own? Without taking something? Think more about what you could do if you were willing. Choose one place you really want to put your energies. Make a commitment and focus your attention.

What human beings can do! Combing energies with others, we can give generously, do phenomenal things in sports, generate money, save the planet. Wow!

There are so many things calling.  Pulling in a zillion different ways.  There are those calls I have to make, the errands to run, emails to return, this to work on, these things to tend to. Whoops!  Don’t forget that. Oh, and what about the stacks of mending awaiting my time and attention?  Is it Christmas already?  I still have packages to wrap. And look, Aunt Mabel showed up!  Where will she sleep? What about all those newsletters and bits of information to read?  The emails continue to pile up.  And the laundry.

Internally there are voices, too.  A running commentary about yourself, your spouse, your kids, your parents, how you did, how you will do, the weather . . . Most of the time it’s easier to ignore most of it.

Sometimes I think this instant access to answers of all kinds, from millions of sources doesn’t help much. The telephone’s ringing and the television offers hundreds of options.  There is no lack of things to choose from, no dearth of distractions to keep us incredibly diffused.  Unless you’ve been spending your time atop a mountain, it’s unlikely you get more than a small portion of your day to focus quietly on anything.  Most of us are expert multi-taskers. It’s easy to see how a person could have to shut down in some places in order to keep up.

So, what are you going to listen to?  Where do you put your trust?  How do you know which of the million answers to your search you should take?  Which politician really speaks for you?  What spiritual author has all the answers?  How do I know which expert to follow?

I believe that each of has, inside our heads at all times, a voice that offers guidance.  It is buried under all that noise.  It is a quiet and unassuming voice.  It does not yell or demand.  You can tell it by its calmness. And that it never criticizes or judges.  It just quietly guides you. It’s loving and accepting. You’ll know it by how it makes you feel.

You develop it by listening to it.  Heeding its guidance.  You may, from time to time, find you’ve listened to the wrong voice.  When it feels Right, in your gut, you know you have it.  But practice will give you more skill at recognizing it.  When it makes you feel good and worthy, it’s likely to be that voice.  But you are free to test it out and see which voice feels the best.

Open your internal browser and seek answers and direction.  Use the inboard guidance system of feelings to lead you to it.  When you do, you will find a single source you can go to.  One that will support you well and help you make good choices.  Then you can pick which of the million results is right for you.

This process is especially good for teenagers.  Learning how to separate the urges that feel right, that spread warmly across your chest or settle broadly in your gut. Those that seem like they would be good for you and maybe others, too.  Leaving behind the fearful longings that someone won’t like you if you don’t do what they say.  Or that excited, risky feeling that doesn’t seem to have much in the way of positive results.

Imagine the good choices you could make if you had one source you could trust.

I’m doing The Artist’s Way, again.  It’s been a long time in between and my circumstances and creativity are at very different places.  So, too, for my dear friend who did it with me last time. I have to say, it’s a wonderful and fun program.  If you work it well, it produces amazing results!

It does take time to do, that’s for sure. With weekly readings and activities, you need to give it a fair amount of attention. As I learned in NaNoWriMo, it’s about the commitment to give it even a little time as many days as you can.  But the real key to this time management thing may be in the daily choices we make for where to put our focus.

Most of us lead busy lives . . . everyone from the 40-50 hour a week salaried workers to those rested and retired in Paradise.  There’s so much to do, to see, to take care of, to make happen, to find out, to listen to, to watch, to follow, to follow through, to follow up.

Can we drill it down to simple “Energy Math”?  I have so many hours to fill that aren’t about sleeping, eating, using the bathroom, etc.  So what am I going to do with them?  What are the things I really want to include?  Where do I choose to put my focus?

This takes observation.  Something we can all do, no matter how busy the schedule.
Needing only a few moments of your time now and again, (maybe when you’re waiting) and perhaps a small notebook or phone – to keep track of those findings.

So, you see what is and you do what works.  What is working for you and what isn’t?  Note those things which drain your energy or time. What activities are getting you where you want to go and what keeps you stuck?  Usually you can tell that what you’re doing just doesn’t feel right.  Or something else is calling you.

What are the things you want in your life?  Whether that’s spending more time with your children, nurturing your creativity or improving your game.  You need to decide what you choose to have in your life.

If those things aren’t fitting, something has to go. You need to make choices: what can you adjust, get rid of or replace?  It might take some time to patch up the leaks, but that’s okay.  Every little bit helps, frees up a little more space for something you’d rather have in your life.  And, knowing you’re taking the steps helps even if it’s just easing your state mind.

Everyone’s choices are different. But each day, sometimes in each moment, you need to think about where you’re going to put your focus. What are the cards you choose to pick to focus on and hold in your hand?

In a recent issue of Cheryl Richardson’s newsletter, she talked about listening to your body.

The body is a wonderful communicator if you but listen to it.  If you don’t, it will make itself known. Try ignoring the signs that you’re overwhelmed, overworked and under tended.  Watch your body poke you in the chest and force you to sit down and rest.

The body doesn’t lie.  It will let you know when you’re hungry, when you’re cold, and when you’re angry.  Your body doesn’t get caught up in maybe you should or maybe you shouldn’t.  It doesn’t care what others think.  Listening to your body and heeding its call can help you avoid a lot of problems and pitfalls.

When I want to know what I’m thinking, I get quiet and listen to how I feel.  How my body is feeling. The body is much easier to read.  Are my muscles tight, where are my shoulders, how am I sitting?  Is my throat dry, my eyes sharp, my energy high?  I have found this creates a direct line into my thoughts. All that’s needed is a little space.

During the day it always pays to take a moment to check on how your body is feeling.  (Even if you don’t have time to sit and analyze your thoughts.)  A quick scan will help you find center again, adjust your position and focus more intently on what you’re doing.

It is so important to pay attention to these physical indicators.  They will help you have a much happier and easier life.  As well as a more productive day.

Eckart Tolle talks about the space between things, the silence between the sounds.  In these gaps are “portals,” as he calls them, to the inner body, to Being, to where the Power of Now lies.

Tricky thing to do.  As far as the space, he talks of the molecules and the spaces between, in relation to their size, as they move at their pace and create matter.  I like the notion of here, there and the space in between. It’s a very different way of perceiving. It’s so natural to focus your attention on the cup, the keyboard, the paper, the phone. Focusing on what‘s in between them quiets the chatter, shuts down the labeling.

The silence between the sounds.  How cool is that?  What a fresh way to look at it! It’s the rests in music which really make it.  I think it’s a survival skill that’s been bred into us, to listen to the sound.  We must be alert for danger. Truthfully, I don’t think I need to sharpen my hearing, ever-searching for the sound of a hungry animal, bent on eating me.  If I’m listening to the silence, I’m quite sure I will hear the phone ringing or someone speaking to me.

Eckart talked about focusing on the silence even in a discussion. Listen for the pauses between the words. I think that helps to ground you.  To help keep your attention on the person speaking and more in tune to what they’re saying.

In between the breaths is God, I have heard. In between . . . jobs, lovers, meals.  There are deep places to be found in between. 

I believe we get so caught in our dual world: up/down, left/right, sad/happy and tend to dismiss those gray areas. But those places are far more interesting and perhaps informative.

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